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Mr. Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is one of history’s most enduring fictional characters.  Created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, his hero has been re-interpreted many times.  ‘Mr. Holmes’ is the latest to trade on a character seen in all forms of entertainment media.  Providing a fresh slant on the popular defender of rights, ‘Mr. Holmes’ captures the elegant air of mystery first portrayed via Conan Doyle’s pen.

 

Living in a farmhouse in remote England in 1947, Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen) enjoys retirement.  Aged 93 and beginning to lose his memory, he is cared for by housekeeper Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her young son Roger (Milo Parker).  When former partner Watson publishes a book giving a different account of Holmes’ last case, Sherlock endeavours to tell his version of the story.  Attempting to piece together facts before his mind fades, Holmes sharpens his detection skills a final time.

 

‘Mr Holmes’ is based on Mitch Cullin’s book ‘A Slight Trick of the Mind’ and offers an absorbing psychological mystery.  Wearily coming to terms with the inevitability of his advancing years, Holmes determines to hold onto the last vestiges of his abilities.  Using them to face past grievances and present dilemmas, his relationships with Mrs. Munro and her son increasingly become important.  The central cast provide under-stated performances effectively highlighting the frailty of the situations in which their characters find themselves.

 

More drama than traditional Sherlock Holmes thriller, ‘Mr. Holmes’ adds an interesting coda to the mystique.  McKellen’s strong rendition makes the character feel more human than the indestructible hero usually seen.  Regret, anger and joy are all etched onto the detective’s face with Bill Condon’s direction teasing out the best of a sedately paced script.  Mystery is there for audiences to uncover but it’s the relationships making ‘Mr. Holmes’ intriguing viewing.

 

‘Mr. Holmes’ is a successful take on a much loved character.  Holmes’ inquisitive curiosity is still evident with his gift for solving puzzles adding another layer of enjoyment in a generally fine movie.

 

Rating out of 10:  7

Ant-Man

The Marvel cinematic universe has been enormously successful.  ‘The Avengers’, ‘Thor’ and ‘Captain America’ franchises have garnered buckets of cash.  Whilst some have been burdened by a predictable formula, others have lingered in the memory with ‘Ant-Man’ sitting somewhere in the middle.   An action packed, CGI-infused ode to one of Marvel’s earliest comic book characters, it’s a fun ride sure to please many genre admirers.

 

Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is keen to safe-guard his secret Ant-Man technology.  Enabling the user to decrease to ant-like size, Pym chooses an unlikely candidate, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a reformed thief.  Initially reluctant to accept the offer, Lang warms to the task of protecting the valuable property.   Becoming a pint-sized hero battling evil entities determined to use the technology for their own nefarious ends, Ant-Man’s small stature masks a man with a huge heroic heart.

 

Due to being an origin story, ‘Ant-Man’ occasionally feels very slow.  Its first hour is particularly glacially paced despite the performer’s enthusiasm.  When the action heats up so does the story with director Peyton Reed showing some stylish flair.  His combination of humour and drama within the action sequences is effectively handled.  Whilst these scenes heavily rely on bedazzling CGI, Reed ensures the actors inject enough personality in them to ensure you care what happens.

 

Being a superhero flick, ‘Ant-Man’ enjoys the story’s fanciful nature.  Although walking a well-worn trajectory, the script embraces the opportunities the concept presents.  Douglas and Rudd in particular seem to enjoy expanding outside their usually known acting range.  They know ‘Ant-Man’ isn’t anything other than a colourful comic-book movie succeeding in elevating its level of enjoyment.  You can’t take a movie like this too seriously with the action and humour blending to form an agreeable escapist package.

 

Compared to previous Marvel films ‘Ant-Man’ may perhaps not be the greatest.  But it has energy and a tone discarding the earnestness of similar movies.  If you roll with the impish nonsense it provides, the small hero witnessed should conjure humongous thrills.

 

Rating out of 10:  6